Wednesday, January 28, 2009

homemade mac-n-cheese

I was blog-stalking this morning and came across a blog called The Black Apple and a post wherein she mentions that she love, love, loves mac-n-cheese but with one staple ingredient: nutmeg! I thought that was the most interesting {aka: weird} combo, but it also called to me. So when searching my cupboards and freezer for anything edible to eat for lunch, I thought I would try making my own mac-n-cheese. I'd never made a cheese sauce from scratch, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. Luckily, my "wingin' it" worked out to my advantage... because it was really good! Give this recipe a try. You'll be glad you did.

RECIPE: Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

Yield: 10 servings
Calories: 395 per

16 oz. tube-ish pasta {I used 1 box ziti.}
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
salt/pepper, to taste
nutmeg {about 4 shakes it to taste}
10 oz. ham (apx 4 thick slices, cubed)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over high heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted and starting to boil, add flour, a little at a time. Whisk quickly to combine. Let the roux boil for about a minute, to cook out the "floury" taste. Add milk. Whisk to combine. Then add cheese and nutmeg, and again whisk to combine. Reduce heat and continue whisking until the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Drain pasta. Add sauce (a little at a time; you may not want all of it). Then add ham. Toss gently, and serve warm. Top with salt, pepper and/or nutmeg to taste.

Monday, January 26, 2009

roast with potatoes, carrots and gravy

There's nothing like walking into the house after church and getting ambushed by the amazing aroma of a slow-cooked roast. Mmm. Derek actually instigated this dinner. He let me sleep in, and when I woke up, I could already smell the roast cooking. It was a pleasant surprise. My husband is the sweetest.

We cooked the roast, potatoes and carrots in the crockpot for a long time, making it so tender it practically melted in our mouths! I whipped up a quick gravy just before we ate using the drippings, and the whole thing was delish. All three of us loved it. It was a hearty, cozy, wonderful family meal.

RECIPE: Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

Yield: 4 servings

2 lb. beef roast {this was chuck}
4 potatoes
1-2 handfuls of baby carrots
1/2 c. onion, diced
2 c. water
Lawry's seasoning
black pepper (freshly ground)

Rub roast liberally with seasoning and pepper. Wash and cube potatoes. Place roast into crockpot, followed by potatoes, carrots and onions. Add water. Season veggies liberally with seasoning and pepper. Cover with lid (and I usually put a kitchen towel or two on top of the lid, to trap in heat even more). Turn crockpot on a) high for 3 hrs, or until roast is cooked through... or b) low for 5-8 hrs, or until roast is cooked through. {This roast we had alone - with just water - in crockpot on high for 2 hrs, then on low with veggies for about 3-4 hrs more.}

RECIPE: Roast-Top Gravy

Yield: about 1 1/2 c. (depends on drippings)

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
roast drippings

In a small frying pan over high heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted and starting to boil, add flour, a little at a time. Whisk quickly to combine. Let the roux boil for about a minute, to cook out the "floury" taste. Then add the drippings a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue simmering/whisking until the gravy reaches desired consistency. Add more salt/seasoning/pepper if needed {ours was plenty tasty}. Serve warm, atop your meal, and enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

german pancakes with apple

In college, an old roommate of mine {Sarah} introduced me to German Pancakes. She was from the south {Louisiana, I think}, so maybe this is a southern thing. I don't even know. Wherever it came from {GERMANY, perhaps??}, it is really yummy! I didn't have a recipe but wanted to make it one day, so I scoured the web in search of a good recipe. I found a few that looked good, but liked only bits and pieces of them instead of any one as a whole. So I took a little from this one, a little from that -- until I came up with my {sort of} own recipe. Then the other day, I wanted to make it healthier, so I thought of adding the apples {which seemed a natural flavor to pair with the cinnamon} and improvised with that. It turned out really yummy... and pretty, too.

This is a really easy, cheap meal to make. And it's super versatile. I usually make it for breakfast, but it's a perfect brunch/brinner/whatever sort of meal! I often put a square of it on a big plate then decorate it with a zig-zag of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It makes the whole meal feel fancy and fun!

RECIPE: German Pancakes

Yield: 8 servings
Calories: 297

1 apple, cored and diced/sliced
1/4 c. butter
1 c. white flour
1 c. wheat flour
2 c. milk
12 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Dump the batter into the casserole dish. The apples will likely float to the top. Sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon, for looks, then pop the whole thing into the oven. I usually put it on the almost-bottom rack, so the top doesn't burn before the mix is cooked through.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the center is stiff and non-jiggly and the apples are nicely browned. Serve with maple syrup... and savor.

steak with roasted broccoli and steak fries

I really dislike most "raw" vegetables. Always have. I have a few exceptions, but broccoli is definitely not one of them. Broccoli was just one of those vegetables... the kind where you're not surprised by the stereotype that always names it as what no kids will eat. I could stomach it {cooked}, but still thought it was blah. Until.... dun dun dun... Rachael Ray introduced me to ROASTED broccoli.

It's divine. It's nutty and somewhat sweet, with crisp edges and tender, savory insides. You'd never guess broccoli could taste this way. I love it. And my family does, too {especially James, which is sayin' something}. So we eat it a lot. A lot a lot. Here is one example of that.

RECIPE: Steak with roasted broccoli and steak fries
Yield: 2 1/2

2 steaks
1/2 bag frozen broccoli (any work, but spears are prettiest)
4-5 potatoes
Lawry's (or your fav seasoned salt)
Spade L Ranch (or your fav steak seasoning)
salt/pepper (I always use freshly ground pepper... it's tons better.)

Preheat oven to 400 F and fire up the grill.

Wash and cut potatoes (into wedges, about 8 wedges per potato).

Place potatoes and broccoli on a cookie sheet/stone. Drizzle EVOO over potatoes and broccoli then rub it in with your hands. Sprinkle generously with pepper and a) salt for broccoli / b) Lawry's for potatoes. Give 'em a rub again if they need it.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and broccoli has blackened edges.

For the steak, make sure it's thawed and rub EVOO on both sides, followed by a thick rub of Spade L Ranch seasoning and ground pepper. Grill until done to your specifications. (In the above picture, we used the George Foreman since our grill is buried under a mound of snow. It's not as pretty, but it was actually very tasty.)

Serve warm, heaped together on a plate, and enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

zuppa tuscana

For as long as I can remember, my mother's potato soup has been a major comfort food for me. It is so, so delicious and incredibly memory-invoking. I literally can eat bowls upon bowls of it in one sitting. This soup to me is a rainy day with pjs, a cuddly blanket, and a good book. It is sitting at my window, watching a creosote-scented, New Mexico thunderstorm.

Needless to say, I LOVE my mother's potato soup. While in college, I called to get her recipe. I can guarantee it was a raining when I called. My mom's recipes are always really vague {a little of this, a half a dozen or so of these, etc.} because she's naturally a good cook. That or she's been one long enough to disregard measurements. {Side note: This made learning from her as a kid difficult because I am absolutely NOT this way. I'm all about stirring, measuring, and exactness- at least in the beginning. Some might say anal. I say perfectionist.}

The point is: My recipe started with hers.

It became my own {and then only in a copy-cat kind of way} when I discovered Olive Garden's Zuppa Tucsana, loved IT, and thought, "This is practically Mom's potato soup, just with a few added ingredients!" So I added a bit, altered a bit, and came up with this. I love it. And so will you.

RECIPE: Zuppa Tuscana (My Version)

Serves: 12
Calories: 202

6 med-lg potatoes
2-3 c. chopped carrots
2 cubes chicken bullion, "smooshed"
1 lb Italian sausage (I like Jimmy Dean the best.)
3 Tbsp. Real Bacon Bits
1 large onion, diced
1 can evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
1/3 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese *divided
kale, de-stemmed and chopped
salt/pepper, to taste

Directions:Wash and slice/dice potatoes (the thinner/smaller, the quicker they cook). Put in a large pot and cover with water (about 10 c.). Toss in the carrots, bacon and chicken bullion, too. Boil until tender, stirring occasionally (to make sure they don't burn to the bottom). Using a potato masher, just mash up the potatoes a little in the water (sometimes my spoon does the trick, too).

While the potatoes boil, brown Italian sausage and onions in a frying pan. Drain if desired (I don't.).

Put the sausage/onion mix into the potato pot. Add the evaporated milk, milk, Parm cheese and the kale. Add lots of pepper and salt to taste. Warm (don't boil at this point) until the kale is bright green and the whole thing is warm/hot.

Serve warm, sprinkled with even MORE Parmesan cheese if desiered... and ENJOY!

PS. I've also used like 2 tsp. of minced garlic in it, and it was yum that way, too.


Welcome to i.heart.yum., my newest blog dedicated to something I {heart} dearly... FOOD! On the list of my favorite things, food is pretty high up there. Not just any food, though. I'm talkin' about delicious, wholesome, healthy, beautiful food you can savor and adore at the same time. Memory-invoking, mouth-watering food. Ah... utopia.

Ideally, this would be a blog dedicated to only the finest cuisine. Though practically, I'm not seein' that happening. I'm a busy, budgeted stay-at-home-mommy and wife of a college-going hercules... so food will not be my absolute life. My camera sucks (not to mention my photography skills), therefore so will the pictures. But upon this blog, I will keep a journal of sorts...

The food we eat.

The good, the bad and the comfort food. The crème brulée and the mac-n-cheese. I'll include a few of my own recipes (since there are only a few at this point), but mostly those of others. I won't try to impress you or be humble when I'm impressed with myself. I'll be honest and unpretentious... because ultimately, this blog is for me.